Stopping the Trafficking

by Jon Mandle on September 24, 2005

Back in January, 2004, Nicholas Kristof wrote that the condition of Cambodian sex slaves had improved compared to the 1990s (it’s here, behind the wall):

“These days the girls are 17 rather than 13, fewer are beaten or physically imprisoned, and Cambodia’s success in fighting AIDS with condoms means that sexual slavery is not necessarily a death sentence.

“The progress in Cambodia is mirrored by strides elsewhere, from South Korea to Romania and the Dominican Republic. And most of the credit goes to the courageous members of grass-roots organizations – mostly women – who often put themselves on the line to defend the weak and powerless against overwhelming economic and political interests.”

Just kidding, of course! Actually, he wrote: “most of the credit goes to the Bush administration.”

Despite their, um, reluctance to promote the use of condoms, Kristof zeroed in on the most effective tool that the Bush administration used in its battle: “The new director of the trafficking office, John Miller, has bludgeoned foreign governments, telling them to curb trafficking or face sanctions.”

Now, according to the Washington Post:

President Bush decided Wednesday to waive any financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia, Washington’s closest Arab ally in the war on terrorism, for failing to do enough to stop the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers.

In fact, back in June, the State Department listed 14 countries that failed to adequately address trafficking problems, but President Bush ruled that only Myanmar, Cuba, and North Korea were “barred completely from receiving certain kinds of foreign aid.” (Trade assistance and humanitarian aid, apparently, are excluded.) “The White House statement offered no explanation of why countries were regarded differently. [The State Dept. spokeswoman] also could not provide one.”

A year ago, when confronted with documentary evidence that the United Arab Emirates had lied about cracking down on the kidnapping and enslavement of young boys as young as 3 to be camel jockeys, John Miller reacted angrily: “I will tell you this. From what I know of the president and the secretary of state’s feelings about the slavery issue, the fact that a government is a friend or an ally is not gonna keep this government from speaking out.”

Naturally, President Bush struck the UAE from the State Department’s list. We’ll see whether Mr. Miller attempts to regain some of his credibility – by returning to his position as board chairman of the Discovery Institute.

Tell it to Judge

by Kieran Healy on September 24, 2005

I was trying to think of ways to legitimately work this photograph of Judge into a post, but there aren’t any, really. So here he is anyway, to remind us all of the virtues of carefully weighing your options and making wise choices. Suffice to say that Judge would not approve of torturing prisoners, invading other countries with a minimum of long-term planning, selling stock in insider deals, laggardly hanging about when people need urgent help, or crossing the road without first looking for a safe place and then letting all the traffic pass you. Pay attention to Judge. He knows whereof he speaks. Normal programming will resume shortly.

We kept it to broken arms and legs

by Henry Farrell on September 24, 2005

The “NYT”: has another story on what seems to have been deliberate and systematic abuse of prisoners in Iraq. At this stage, anyone who’s sticking to the “few bad apples” story is delusional, lying or both. The “Human Rights Watch report”: on which the NYT story is based has first person accounts from two sergeants and an officer.
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by Henry Farrell on September 24, 2005

In my “post”: on Germany a couple of days ago, I coined what I thought was a neologism, “Frummagem.” It was supposed to be a “portmanteau word”:, combining the name of David Frum, “notorious”: for his pseudo-argument that the poor need a bit of Donner Party style privation to stiffen their moral backbones, with the word “brummagem”:, which means something shoddy, second-rate or counterfeit. Therefore, Frummagem: a shoddy and brutal argument for immiserating the poor, after the style of David Frum. To my surprise and delight, I discovered through Google that ‘frummagem’ is actually a real word in eighteenth century thieves’ cant. It “features”: in Richard Head’s contemporary compendium of canting slang, _The English Rogue_, which informs the reader that “frummagem” means to “choake.” Walter Scott uses ‘frummagem’d’ in his novel “Guy Mannering”: to “mean”: throttled or hanged. In short, a bit of thievish language with violent connotations. Sounds as though I wasn’t far off the mark.

The big game

by John Q on September 24, 2005

For any Australian readers who aren’t already aware of it, the AFL Grand Final was won by Sydney Swans, defeating West Coast Eagles in a thriller. A brilliant defensive mark by Leo Barry in the last seconds kept them ahead by 4 points. The Irish contingent will be pleased to know that import Tadhg Kennelly, a convert from Gaelic football, played a solid part in the win.